Homer’s Do’s and Doh’s: Pitkanen trade v. Umberger trade and Jones re-entry v. Pronger trade

Paul Holmgren became the interim General Manager of the Philadelphia Flyers on October 22, 2006. That interim title was removed only weeks later on November 11. Holmgren was able to take a team that finished last in the National Hockey League, and rebuild it to make a deep run all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals the very next season.

Yes, some of Holmgren’s moves have been amazing, but he’s also a guy who has gotten this organization into some hot water with the salary cap and was forced to make deals that were head scratchers to say the least.

If you enjoyed our Dazzlers and Duds polltastic tournament feature, we’ve got another one all lined up for you. Flyers Faithful proudly presents Homer’s Do’s and Doh’s: Our Favorite and Least Favorite Deals Under Paul Holmgren.

Starting Monday, November 19, there will be a single bracket with 32 trades, signings, and waiver-wire claims and losses, to determine exactly which deal everyone thinks is Holmgren’s best so far, his less than favorable so far, and whether the good outweighs the bad or vice-versa.

I don’t think anyone can deny that it’s been a real entertaining and exciting time in Flyers history with Holmgren at the helm. That’s a fact. But is Holmgren the king of exchange swinging, or does his penchant for quick fixes get him into more trouble than he’s worth?
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Yesterday’s Results: The trade for Kimmo Timonen’s and Scott Hartnell’s signing rights handily won on the favorite side, while the Scottie Upshall trade for Dan Carcillo destroyed the Briere signing.

Today’s contestants:

Joni Pitkanen, Geoff Sanderson, and 2009 3rd round pick to Edmonton Oilers for Jason Smith and Joffrey Lupul
write-up courtesy of Nick D

This deal was a good one for the Philadelphia Flyers and not so great for the Edmonton Oilers. While Joni Pitkanen was a young, offensive defenseman at the time, Geoff Sanderson was washed up, and that 2009 3rd rounder the Flyers gave up ended up being Cameron Abney (a nobody). Pitkanen went on to have a fairly good year with the Oilers, who did not make the playoffs, but he was then traded to the Carolina Hurricanes after just one year with Edmonton.

Jason Smith of course captained a rebuilt Philadelphia team to the Eastern Conference Finals that year. With two separated shoulders, his toughness and net presence were enough to ward just about every player from any other team off until the Pittsburgh Penguins got a hold of the bruised and battered Orange-and Black.

Lupul on the other hand, was pretty productive in his two years with the Flyers. Lupul played 135 games and scored 45 goals and 51 assists for 96 points. He also scored the game seven overtime winner over the Washington Capitals in 2008, sending the Flyers onto the second round. Overall, this deal was better for the Flyers because Lupul helped the Flyers’ scoring depth and he was a key piece in the trade with the Anaheim Ducks that landed defenseman Chris Pronger in Philadelphia. Would you really rather have Joni Pitkanen still?

RJ Umberger and 2008 4th round pick to Columbus Blue Jackets for 2008 1st round pick (Luca Sbisa) and 2008 3rd round pick (Marc-Andre Bourdon)
write-up courtesy of Marcello De Feo

Richard Allen Umberger is a decent albeit streaky two-way player who filled any number of important roles on the Flyers’ offense. However, once he found his way into John Stevens’ doghouse and was demoted to the fourth line, it was clear his time in Philadelphia was limited.

As a restricted free agent in the summer of 2008, it came as no surprise that Paul Holmgren opted to move the forward closer to his hometown and alma mater in exchange for draft picks. This trade did anger some, until Umberger received a lofty — and somewhat unexpected — contract extension averaging nearly $4 million per season.

Since becoming a Blue Jacket, Umby posted four straight 20+ goal seasons. It is undeniable that any team could benefit from such an additional goal scorer — although, playing alongside Rick Nash helps too — but the Flyers have always had offense to spare. The team’s primary need was on defense. Acquiring the promising Luca Sbisa helped. When the Flyers rushed him and setback his development, turning him into Chris Pronger helped even more. Now, Marc-Andre Bourdon is coming to his own and promises to be a solid contributor at the NHL level.

This was not a one-sided deal with a runaway winner but the R.J. Umberger trade continues to pay dividends for the Flyers in a variety of different ways and, in my opinion, the best is yet to come.

Which Paul Holmgren deal was better?

  • Joni Pitkanen, Geoff Sanderson, and 2009 3rd round pick to Edmonton Oilers for Jason Smith and Joffrey Lupul (60%, 35 Votes)
  • RJ Umberger and 2008 4th round pick to Columbus Blue Jackets for 2008 1st round pick (Luca Sbisa) and 2008 3rd round pick (Marc-Andre Bourdon) (40%, 23 Votes)

Total Voters: 58

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Randy Jones lost to Los Angeles Kings via Re-Entry Waivers
write-up courtesy of Kevin Christmann

When the Flyers signed Randy Jones to a two year $5.5 million contract it was pretty apparent that it was a mistake. However, I’m not writing this with that contract extension in mind.

One year after the extension, just prior to the 2009-2010 season, the Flyers came to their senses and waived Jones, effectively burying him in the AHL so the Flyers could be rid of his $2.75 million cap hit. Rejoice! (To be honest, I didn’t think Jones was THAT terrible of a player. I did however, think it was a joke that he was consuming as much cap space as he was.)

Then, in October of that season the Flyers did the one thing that they shouldn’t have. They placed Jones on re-entry waivers for the purpose of trying to get him back to the NHL. He was promptly claimed by Flyers West—I mean the LA Kings—and the Flyers were stuck with $1.375 million in dead cap space. Rejoice!

Just to add a little more confusion into the mix, if memory serves me—and this seems to make me think I’m correct—this transpired after an injury to Simon Gagne. I’m not a master of logic but I don’t see how you get from “winger gets hurt” to “let’s risk dead cap space by recalling a defenseman”.

Joffrey Lupul, Luca Sbisa, 2009 1st round pick, 2010 1st round pick, and 2010 or 2011 conditional 3rd round pick to Anaheim Ducks for Chris Pronger and Ryan Dingle
write-up courtesy of Hal G

So what you’re telling me is that the Flyers traded a top-6 forward, a top-4 teenage puck moving defenseman, two first round picks and a third round pick for a defenseman who is slow and starting to reach the end of his career and a minor-league player yet to sniff the NHL? If you hadn’t caught on yet, I’m talking about the Flyers mammoth draft day deal that send Joffrey Lupul, Luca Sbisa and those draft picks for Chris Pronger and Ryan Dingle.

Now don’t get me wrong, we all love Pronger; especially what he was able to do in his first year in Philadelphia, BUT, he handicapped the team with his massive, long-term contract and we now know he will likely never play hockey again.

This trade was bad for a number of reasons. One, the Flyers traded a “glue” guy who has gone on to become a top line offensive player. Two, Sbisa continues to excel and grow (remember, he made the Flyers as an 18-year old rookie). And don’t we know that the Flyers need a replacement for an aging Kimmo Timonen. Finally, THE DRAFT PICKS! We may all love Pronger, but we don’t love the end result of this deal by Homer.

Which Paul Holmgren deal was worse?

  • Joffrey Lupul, Luca Sbisa, 2009 1st round pick, 2010 1st round pick, and 2010 or 2011 conditional 3rd round pick to Anaheim Ducks for Chris Pronger and Ryan Dingle (53%, 32 Votes)
  • Randy Jones lost to Los Angeles Kings via Re-Entry Waivers (47%, 28 Votes)

Total Voters: 60

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